Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

My first contact with Apple was when I was in school and was visiting my friend’s place. Her dad’s coulourful laptop was lying around and I couldn’t help but press a few keys. It was an iBook in blueberry colour. Years later when I got a job, I would buy an iMac on 12 months’ installments. Later on I purchased many other Apple products and experienced a very consistent, reliable and seamless performance. I would look forward to Apple product launches and that’s how I came to know about Jobs, as a master presenter and showman. But I knew nothing more about Steve Jobs.

When Jobs died I was on a weekend trip to Udaipur and got the news the from news paper. I was shocked and sad. I thought he had just begun. I read more to understand what happened and came across articles which described him as ruthless, unforgiving etc. I thought I need to understand him more and came to know there is an official biography available. I purchased it a month back and I just finished reading it today.

The book is a complete narration of a life of a baby born to an unwed mother and adopted by modest but loving parents. It’s a story of a teenage boy who liked electronics, drugs, music and did pilgrimage to India at age 20 to seek enlightenment. Of a guy who co-created a computer in garage of his father’s house at 21, fathered a daughter at 23, established a listed company and becomes $200 million rich by the age of 25 and ousted at the age 30 by board members of the company he co-founded. It’s story of a man who persisted despite the setbacks and created NeXT and Pixar, proving him right about his vision and came back 10 years later to lead or rather save the company he founded. Of a man who was diagnosed with cancer at age 49 and went on to revolutionise world with products like iPod, iPhone, iMac, iTunes, iPad and died at the age of 56 surrounded by his family with his last words Oh wow! Oh wow!

The book surprised me in many ways. One of that is that it revealed many bad sides of jobs (or at least so in my mind) that doesn’t go well with an image of a global business or technology icon and the fact that job himself instructed to the author that the book be that way – unbiased, unvarnished, that it portrays the real him and his life. The result is astonishing. The books describes in detail the issues he had with (or they had with Steve) like Wozniak (Apple co-founder), Bill Gates (sometimes Apple partner, sometimes enemy) or Chrisann Brennan – his ex-girlfriend and their daughter Lisa. It also talks about how he was disturbed about being put up for adoption although he got loved and cared by his adoptive parents. Jobs would admit that using psychedelic drugs was one of the most important things that happened to his life. He said it helped him think differently and imagine the impossible. The book also says that Jobs believed he wouldn’t live longer and would often mention that to his family and friends. And so he had a sense of urgency in everything he did and pursued.

The book is long enough to put everything in detail and does justice to different chapters of Jobs’ life. Apparently Jobs never read the book nor tried to control what it said. He knew there would be plenty written about him and he wanted the generation and his kids to know who he really was. After reading the book I was satisfied that I know him better now. And my reaction was Oh wow! Oh wow! What a remarkable life!

Here is one of his most popular, inspirational speeches. The man in his own words.

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